Page images
PDF
EPUB

There is likewise a Zacharias, the son of Baruch, related by Jofephus to have been slain in the temple a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem. It has been insinuated, that the words put into our Saviour's mouth contain a reference to this transaction, and were composed by some writer, who either confounded the time of the transaction with our Saviour's age, or inadvertently overlooked the anachronism.

Now suppose it to have been so; suppose these words to have been suggested by the transaction related in Josephus, and to have been falsely ascribed to Christ; and observe what extraordinary coincidences (accidentally, as it must in that case have been) attend the forger's mistake.

First, Thàt we have a Zacharias in the book of Chronicles, whose death, and the manner of it, corresponds with the allusion.

Secondly, that although the name of this person's father be erroneously put down in Vou. II. 0

the

[ocr errors]

the gospel, yet we have a way of accounting for the error, by shewing another Zacharias in the Jewish scriptures, much better known than the former, whose patronymic was actually that which appears in the text.

Every one who thinks upon the subject, will find these to be circumstances which could not have met together in a miftake, which did not proceed from the circumstances themselves.

I have noticed, I think, all the difficulties of this kind. They are few ; some of them admit of a clear, others of a probable solution. The reader will compare them with the number, the variety, the clofeness, and the satisfactoriness, of the instances which are to be set against them; and he will remember the scantiness, in many cases, of our intelligence, and that difficulties always attend imperfect information,

СНАР.

CHAP. VII.

Undesigned Coincidences.

BETWEEN the letters which bear the name of St. Paul in our collection, and his history in the Acts of the Apostles, there exist many notes of correspondency. The fimple perusal of the writings is sufficient to prove, that neither the history was taken from the letters, nor the letters from the history. And the undesignedness of the agreements (which undesignedness is gathered from their latency, their minuteness, their obliquity, the suitableness of the circumftances in which they consist, to the places in which those circumstances occur, and the circuitous references by which they are traced out) demonstrates that they have not been produced by meditation, or by any fraudulent contrivance. But coincidences, from which these causes are excluded, and 0-2

which

which are too close and numerous to be ac, counted for by accidental concurrences of fiction, must necessarily have truth for their foundation.

1

This argument appeared to my

mind of so much value (especially for its assuming nothing beside the existence of the books), that I have pursued it through St. Paul's thirteen epistles, in a work published by me four

years ago under the title of Horæ Paulinæ. I am sensible how feebly any argument, which depends upon an induction of particulars, is represented without examples. On which account, I wished to have abridge ed my own volume, in the manner in which I have treated Dr. Lardner's in the preceding chapter. But, upon making the ato tempt; I did not find it in my power to render the articles intelligible by fewer words than I have there used. I must be content, therefore, to refer the reader to the work itself. And I would particularly invite his attention to the observations which are made in it upon the three first epistles: I persuade myself that he will find the proofs, both of agreement and undesignedness, supplied by these epistles, sufficient to support the conclusion which is there maintained, in favour both of the genuineness of the writings, and the truth of the narrative.

It remains only, in this place, to point out how the argument bears upon the

genes ral question of the Christian history.

First, St. Paul in these letters affirms, in unequivocal terms, his own performance of miracles, and, what ought particularly to be remembered, Thai miracles were the signs of an apostle *.' If this testimony come from St. Paul's own hand, it is invaluable. And that it does so, the argument before us fixes in

my

mind a firm assurance.

Secondly, it shows that the series of action, represented in the epistles of St. Paul, was real; which alone lays a foundation

* Rom. xv. 18, 19.

2 Cor. xii. 12.

« PreviousContinue »